Last edited 04 Oct 2019


Competence is a measure of the ability to do things well. Thus, a competent person is someone who generally does things to standards that are judged favourably by others.

Competence can usually only be ascertained on the basis of historical actions, but these can be projected into the future to give an idea of how someone might perform under a specific set of circumstances. So, on the basis of past work completed, an architect may be expected to do well (and so show competence) on a new building project. Competency and success usually go hand in hand: exhibiting competence is a vital characteristic for progression in any career.

However, competence can be a subjective criterion – what may appear competent to one person may seem incompetent to another.

[edit] Incompetence

The opposite of competence is incompetence which is defined as a tendency to not do things well, even badly. An incompetent person generally makes mistakes, gets things wrong and may be scorned by some in societyincompetence is not an admired trait.

However, neither competence nor incompetence need be permanent and it is often observed that generally competent people can at times show signs of incompetence – and vice versa.